Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Dartmouth Big Green (1929)

When doing historical research, you sometimes stumble upon something cool that you weren't looking for. Such is the case with one Alton Kimball "Al" Marsters, an All-American running back at Dartmouth when the above uniform was worn.

Al Marsters.

Grantland Rice referred to Marsters and Dartmouth as "the greatest combination on any stadium turf from East to West," although I'm pretty certain that in Mr. Rice's case, college football ended in New Haven and didn't pick up again until Palo Alto.

An actual c. 1930 Dartmouth football jersey. Sadly, not mine.
You can see it and other neat ancient football items here.

Marsters, a senior, and Dartmouth went 7-2 in '29, with the losses coming to Yale in the sixth game and Navy in the season finale. It's the Yale game that's of particular interest. According to "Dartmouth College Football: Green Fields of Autumn," the superstitious Marsters had worn the same set of pads since he was in high school. Before the Yale game, the pads were misplaced, and Marsters had to use a replacement set. What happened next? He was kicked in the back by a Yale defender and he suffered a spinal fracture. His season - and career - were over.

One of the last plays of  Al Marsters' college football career,
against Yale in 1929. From the Dartmouth Digital Library Collections site.
If you look closely, you can see not all the white Dartmouth shirts have friction strips.

As for the uniforms, they're a classic 1920-30s example of how not every team was perfectly coordinated (see here for another example). Some shirts have friction strips, some have white shoulders, some are plain. I guess good enough was good enough in those days. If there was an internet in '29, there'd be all sorts of whiny "OMG! Dartmouth can't get their unis right!" tweets and stuff. 

The 1929 Big Green/Indians, also from the digital library. If a team hit the field
looking this mismatched today, the internet would have a coronary. 

The white jerseys were worn against Yale during the late '20s and early '30s, when their game was exclusively played at the Yale Bowl.

Some other unis from the Green Machine: 201420132005-062003-041978-861970, 1957-611955-561951-5419441936-38. Rivalry week: Dartmouth-Princeton.

One final Al Marsters tidbit, from the Chicago Tribune archive.
The fascinating headline really says it all.

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